Hello Monaco: A Culinary Tribute to HRH Prince Albert II on National Day

Once upon a time, I dreamt up an idea for a feast fit for our prince to celebrate his Sovereign Day on 19th November. I went in search of the French Riviera’s hottest culinary talent. I scoured the Mediterranean coastline from the backstreets of Nice to Belle-Epoque palaces, medieval castles and clifftop terraces towards the Italian border. I found seven chefs at the top of their game: some Michelin stars, others TV stars. Each chef was asked to design a dish in the red and white of the Monegasque flag.

During the course of this feature, these celebrated chefs went to unimaginable lengths to produce this feast. Some were inspired by their native cuisine, others by their commitment to ecological sustainability. Some dug into their own kitchen gardens for herbs and vegetables, others sourced fish from local artisan fishermen or sought out rare ingredients such as Lardo di Colonnata salumi from the Apuan Alps and vanilla all the way from Tahiti.

Behind the scenes, the Hello Monaco crew busied themselves with the intricate coordination of the photo shoot from palace authorizations to tableware design by Sabrina Monte-Carlo and last-minute changes of venue. After months of planning, the day of the photo shoot arrived. One chef had even brought his own TV crew to encapsulate the moment on film for his South African TV series. Their edible masterpieces went far beyond our expectations. Each dish revealed a depth of culinary passion that far outweighed their fame. In today’s world of Instagram cupcakes, I find such dedication humbling.

Mauro Colagreco, Mirazur

2019 sees Argentine chef Mauro Colagreco hitting a new career high as his restaurant has been named number 1 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. He is a longtime supporter of marine conservation and participated in last year’s launch by Prince Albert II of the Monaco Explorations ecological research boat. His dish Mahi-Mahi Crudo brings together the best of the sea and the land: the turnips and shallots are grown in Colagreco’s own garden, while the mahi-mahi is a seasonal and sustainable fish that comes from the catch of the last artisan fisherman in Menton. Colagreco says: “I admire Prince Albert II for all his convictions and commitments. I truly share his vision. My dish is adorned with the principality’s flags as an homage.”  Mirazur, 30 avenue Aristide Briand, Menton; +33-4-92-41-86-86; www.mirazur.fr

Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, Jan

South Africa’s first-ever chef to receive a Michelin star, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen has a huge following in his native South Africa where he launched his own TV series in 2017. Hendrik combines South African cuisine with Mediterranean produce at his Niçoise restaurant. Amasi, hibiscus, winterberries and peppercorn is his own take on Amasi: a fermented-milk probiotic beverage that is popular in South Africa. “I grew up on a dairy farm in South Africa so my love for cooking with milk is evident,” says Hendrik. Jan, 12 rue Lascaris, Nice; +33-4-97-19-32-23; www.restaurantjan.com

Arnaud Faye, Château de la Chèvre d’Or

Two Michelin-starred chef Arnaud Faye has been on the fast track to culinary stardom ever since he took over the L’Espadon at The Ritz in Paris. Since then, he has secured Michelin stars for several more restaurants before arriving to head up the kitchens at the fabled castle of La Chèvre d’Or in 2016. For this feast, Faye has cooked a Monkfish in a Tomato Lacquer with a Burrata (mozzarella-and-cream cheese) RatatouilleChâteau de la Chèvre d’Or, rue du Barri, Eze village; +33-4-92-10-66-66; www.chevredor.com

Yoric Tièche, Four Seasons Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat

Born in nearby Aix-en-Provence, revered executive chef Yoric Tièche has Provençal flavours running through his veins. Last summer, Tièche took over the cuisine at this extravagant Riviera palace. No doubt the hotel’s dreamy views, over the landscaped gardens towards the Mediterranean Sea, played their part in inspiring Tièche’s surf-and-turf dish: Roasted Turbot roasted with Lardo di Colonnata, artichoke and octopus fricassee. Produced in the white-marbled Apuan Alps, the Lardo di Colonnata is a type of salumi made from pork lard that is aged in a garlic-rubbed, marble basin. “I finished off the dish with basil leaves fresh from our kitchen garden,” says Tièche. Four Seasons Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, 71 boulevard du Général de Gaulle, Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat; +33-4-93-76-50-50; www.fourseasons.com

Christophe Cussac, Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo

Two Michelin-starred executive chef, Christophe Cussac, is one of the Riviera’s culinary heavyweights. With an exemplary CV that stretches from Troisgros to La Réserve de Beaulieu, Cussac has been at the helm of the Hôtel Métropole’s kitchens for over a decade. “My primary inspiration was visual,” says Cussac of his dessert. “I worked upon the aesthetics of white and red to create The Munegu.” Cussac sourced vanilla all the way from Tahiti in order to flavour the ganache. The cranberry jelly is topped with a crunchy cranberry lace tuileThe Munegu will be on the dessert menu through November at Joël Robuchon restaurant, Hôtel Métropole , 4 avenue de la Madone, Monte-Carlo; +377-93-15-15-10; www.metropole.com.

Julien Dugourd, Château de la Chèvre d’Or

Julien Dugourd has been pastry chef of La Chèvre d’Or for almost a decade. This Vosges-born chef has worked regularly with the Prince’s Palace in Monaco and recently joined the exclusive CCC (Chefs of Chefs’ Club). With his effervescent personality, this master of sweet flavours was an obvious choice for a guest-chef appearance on the recent French TV show, Top Chef 2018. Here, Dugourd gives his own twist on a classic Vacherin dessert. Château de la Chèvre d’Or, rue du Barri, Eze village; +33-4-92-10-66-66; www.chevredor.com

Didier Aniès, Fairmont Monte-Carlo

Executive chef Didier Aniès is a living testament to the small world of gastronomic cuisine. Before moving to the Fairmont Monte-Carlo last month to head up the hotel’s team of 70 chefs, Aniès worked for a decade at the Four Seasons in Cap Ferrat. Proud of his Southwestern French roots, Aniès infuses his cuisine with regional flavours to bring pleasure to local residents. In his own words: “J’aime les gens.” For his Royal Riviera Feast, he has cooked his own version of a nearby Piedmont dish, Vitello Tonnato: Roasted Garden Vegetables and Smoked Tuna with a tuna-mayonnaise sauce.

Fairmont Monte-Carlo, 12 avenue de Spélugues, Monaco; +377-93-50-65-00, www.fairmont.com

 

The team behind Royal Riviera Feast:

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